Before he left the family, my father worked as a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company. He travelled from chemist to chemist with samples of pills and lotions and pastes in the back of his Valiant station wagon. The best sales representatives visited modern chemists in the city and suburbs. My father had to drive long distances to country chemists who had stocked the same product lines for years and weren’t interested in anything new. As he drank more and more, my father called on fewer and fewer chemists, but the cardboard boxes of samples kept arriving. They no longer fitted in the back of the car, so my father stored them in the corrugated iron shed next to the house. Summer in Perth is very hot. For months and months the bitumen boiled on the roads and we had to use the ends of our T-shirts to open the iron lid of the mailbox, or risk getting burnt. The pharmaceutical samples expanded in the heat of the shed. The lotions and pastes burst their tubes and tubs and seeped through the cardboard boxes. It smelt good in the shed – sweet and clean and surgical. My brother and I went in there often and sat among the sodden boxes as we read our father’s Playboy magazines.